Metho DrinkerUnder the death of winter's leaves he lies
who cried to Nothing and the terrible night
to be his home and bread. "O take from me
the weight and waterfall ceaseless Time
that batters down my weakness; the knives of light
whose thrust I cannot turn; the cruelty
of human eyes that dare not touch nor pity."
Under the worn leaves of the winter city
safe in the house of Nothing now he lies.
His white and burning girl, his woman of fire,
creeps to his heart and sets a candle there
to melt away the flesh that hides from bone,
to eat the nerve that tethers him in time.
He will lie warm until the bone is bare
and on a dead dark moon he wakes alone.
It was for Death he took her; death is but this;
and yet he is uneasy under her kiss
and winces from that acid of her desire.Judith Wright| "metho" = methylated spirit (not for human consumption, industrial alcohol)"death of winter's leaves" - mortality"Nothing": personification. The drinker is crying out to "Nothing". homeless."knives of light" - neither the darkness nor the light brings any comfort. "worn leaves of the winter city" - note the winter imagery. Winter connotes ideas of harshness, death, emotional frigidity, suffering. "house of Nothing" - brings to mind images of emotional emptiness, hollowness, negativity, loss. "human eyes...nor pity" - society is turning a blind eye to the addict's problem."house of Nothing" - the addict has nothing (no hope, nobody to care for him, no material wealth)"his....girl, his woman..." metho is personified as a seductive woman. "creeps...heart" - stealthy, deliberate.The sensory effects of metho intoxication are described here: "melt away...bare". This is what being drunk on metho feels like for the drinker."dead", "dark", "Death" - alliteration.The drinker wants to feel oblivion by drinking metho. Metho's damaging "kiss" makes the speaker "uneasy" because it is painful, just like "acid".The drinker is not in control of his "desire" - in fact, it is metho (personified as a seductive woman) that is in control with "her desire" of him.This is my annotation while reading the poem. It is scribbled in point form. You will need to read the poem first then look at my annotation to gain a better understanding.|
Basically, this poem is talking about metho addiction (methylated spirit, a very cheap form of alcohol that is poisonous because it is not meant to be drunk). The speaker is the poet. The speech in inverted commas in the first stanza is the metho drinker crying out in his lonely desperation. "eyes ... pity" - society turns a blind eye to this problem because nobody wants to get involved with the drinker's plight. In the 2nd stanza, metho addiction is personified as a wily, seductive woman. She is a femme fatale. She "sets a candle" in the heart of the drinker, the way a Christian might set a candle in a church - this is a perversion of an act of religious piety. The effects of drinking metho are described thusly:
"eats the nerve...time" - makes the drinker lose all sense of time. "lie warm...bare" - drinking alcohol makes the body feel warmed, but it is not a healthy warmth because it leaves the "bone" exposed and "bare". "he wakes alone" - when the intoxication wears off, the drinker has to face reality once again. Note that it is when a "dead dark moon" is in the sky that the drinker wakes up: this implies that he has woken up in the dark of night. "It was ...Death...took her" - the drinker wants to achieve oblivion by drinking metho. "uneasy...acid of her kiss" - the taste of metho is unpleasant and burning. Moreoever, the effects are very destructive.
Explain (tell me what kind of imagery is used in this poem: is it happy? dark? natural? man-made?)The poet uses bleak, chilling imagery throughout the poem. Images from nature form the backdrop for the poet's commentary on...| Analyse (tell me how the imagery is used to...